Final score: Minnesota 54 Nebraska 21
This was the Demry Croft show, to put it simply. The Minnesota quarterback rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns and completed 9-of-15 passes for 195 yards in the blowout win over the Cornhuskers. It was really the first time since B1G play started that the Gophers’ offense looked so crisp.
Minnesota jumped out to a 27-7 lead in the first half, just gutting Nebraska on the ground. By the time the first half concluded, the Gophers took a 30-14 lead and all the momentum into the half. The Gophers scored midway through the third to make the score 37-14, essentially putting the nail in the coffin before even getting to the fourth quarter.
Nebraska defense was embarrassing throughout the entire game. It continued to surrender big plays to a quarterback that was still relatively unproven. This was a winnable game for the Huskers and a chance to move within one victory of bowl eligibility. Instead, they were laughed out of Minneapolis.
Key play: Demry Croft’s 73-yard touchdown run in the second quarter
Croft’s long touchdown run essentially summed up Saturday’s game. The quarterback juked a defender out of his shoes after faking a handoff and was able to jog into the end zone without a white jersey in sight. It was one of the easiest 50-plus yard touchdowns you’ll ever see.
The score also gave the Gophers a 20-7 lead over the Huskers early in the second quarter. After that play, it kind of felt like this game was Minnesota’s to lose.
Stat of the game: Minnesota’s 409 rushing yards to Nebraska’s 69
Not to keep beating the same drum, but you have to be able to run the football in the B1G, especially in November. Minnesota did that and Nebraska did not.
The Gophers outrushed the Huskers by nearly 350 yards on Saturday and were able to pick up chunks of yardage whenever they wanted. Croft led the way with 183 yards while Rodney Smith had 134 yards and Kobe McCrary scored had 93 yards. Croft and McCrary combined for six rushing touchdowns.
What it means
Mathematically, Nebraska is still in the hunt for bowl eligibility, but that would require a win over Penn State next week. That’s not going to happen. So, what little could’ve been salvaged from this season is now gone.
That’s really all there is to say about the Huskers after this embarrassing outing.
But for Minnesota, the Gophers proved that they can put up some fight in the final weeks of the season. And though P.J. Fleck has downplayed the importance of reaching the postseason, Minnesota has a real shot to get to the postseason.
In short, Minnesota is trending up while Nebraska is trending down. Way down.